Steven Melendez ‘01 is the Artistic Director of The Hiland Theater for National Dance Institute New Mexico in Albuquerque. Prior to this role, Steven was a world-class dancer at New York Theater Ballet. Steven was drawn to his current position because NDI New Mexico has a similar mission to the LIFT program that he participated in as a child -- using the arts to inspire, engage and motivate children.
At age seven, Steven started his ballet training as part of the LIFT Scholarship Program at the School of the New York Theater Ballet. In addition to professional dance training, the LIFT program provided Steven with private education —first at MCS and later at the Professional Children’s School. He continued his studies at the School of American Ballet and attended summer intensive programs with the San Francisco Ballet Academy, Houston Ballet Academy and Kaatsbaan International School.
In 2001, Steven joined New York Theatre Ballet as an apprentice and he was promoted to principal in 2006. While at NYTB, he performed leading roles in choreographies by Fredrick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Butler, Agnes DeMille, Donald Mahler, Antony Tudor and others. In 2004, he graduated from the American Ballet Theater Studio Company Associate Program, which culminated in a performance of "Oblivion" by Jessica Lang and "Continuo" by Antony Tudor.
Steven has performed in ballets in countries around the world, including Argentina, New Zealand, Thailand, Venezuela, Ecuador, Estonia, Spain and Italy. In 2015, he celebrated his 15th season with New York Theatre Ballet performing in world premieres of works by Pam Tanowitz and Nicolo Fonte and a U.S. premiere of Richard Alston’s "Such Longing." He was a frequent guest artist at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica and Ballet Palm Beach, and a faculty member of Ballet School New York.
According to Steven, "I was lucky to have had the opportunities I had when I was growing up - in large part because of the supportive community at MCS who never looked at this Puerto Rican boy from the south Bronx going to ballet classes everyday with a second thought!"